I was stunned by her suggestion – I mean, who wouldn’t be surprised by an invitation to spend one’s birthday meandering through a zoo… in New England… in January. Up until that moment, I had never given much thought to the state of a menagerie during winter, but after a few reassuring statements from my sister, we departed for the Roger Williams Park Zoo.
The Fujifilm 35mm f/1.4 lens is a piece of glass I owned briefly some eleven months ago. I ultimately sold it for a number of reasons, first and foremost, because I felt that it did not live up to the hype. You know what I’m talking about. Many photographers have spoken highly about the lens, perhaps none more so than Zack Arias, and my assumption was, that I too might experience this so called “magic.” That was not the case. Like many things, my expectations did not line up with reality, and I quickly moved on. Now, a year older, and a little wiser, the Fuji 35mm f/1.4 is back in my bag.
I love this lens. What’s different this time around? My expectations were more inline with reality, which is oftentimes the secret to happiness. I did not walk into the store expecting this lens to change my photographic output. Frankly, I didn’t even walk into a store – this lens was a present.
On our way out of the house, I grabbed my X-Pro2 and hastily secured the 35mm. My goal was to have a fun day with my mother and sister at the zoo, and perhaps that is why I enjoyed shooting with this lens as much as I did. It never got in the way, it never pestered me for attention or irritated me. I love the 56mm f/1.2 lens, but that piece of glass is an example of a lens that demands attention. It is big and heavy (for a mirrorless camera) and its focus ring requires a laborious effort when turning. Don’t get me wrong, I love the 56mm, but the 35mm is more subtle; I couldn’t help but feel as if it belonged with us. It accompanied my family and I as we wandered around the abandoned zoo, not making a peep, never clambering for my attention.
As one of the first three X lenses, I know the 35mm is no spring chicken, and therefore my comments have probable been uttered before. Therefore, I’ll keep this short. The depth of field is stunning; the f/1.4 tosses the background out into a creamy blur, ideal for isolating your subject. The only word that comes to mind, when describing the image quality, is gentle. The images are not necessarily soft, but rather smooth and fluid. I love taking photographs with this lens!
Although cold, our time spent at the zoo was pleasurable. We laughed and enjoyed spending time together, whilst witnessing the unusually high energy levels displayed by the animals. I could not have brought a better lens with me for this fun birthday activity. Is the 35mm f/1.4 magical? I don’t know, go ask Zack. What I can tell you is that I’m not selling it this time…